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Some bills by Forsyth legislators die at Crossover Day
Williams Michael
District 27 state Rep. Michael Williams.

With the Georgia General Assembly’s 2017 legislative session approaching its close, Friday’s Crossover Day was busy Forsyth legislators.

The day is largely seen as the “make it or break it” deadline for bills to pass the chamber in which they were introduced ­— the Georgia Senate or House of Representatives — for the other chamber to have enough time to consider it for a full floor vote before Sine Die, the last day of the session.

While both legislative bodies saw victories and losses, Forsyth County lawmakers agreed: their jobs are not yet done.
Locally written bills

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House Bill 54: Tax credits for rural hospitals

What: Increases the amount of money Georgia residents who donate to rural hospitals can get back in tax credits.

Current law allows taxpayers to apply for a state income tax credit for either 70 percent of an individual’s contribution to an approved rural hospital or $2,500, whichever is less.

For a couple filing jointly, the credit can be 70 percent of the contribution or $5,000 – again, whichever is less.
The bill was created to help struggling rural hospitals by incentivizing private donations.

Who: Written by District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

Status: Did not crossover.

Comments: “I have several options to explore to still [get it heard],” Duncan said. “There is no good reason why this shouldn’t pass, and I can assure the folks in rural Georgia that I am not going to stop fighting for policy. I’m not even thinking through the lens of this not getting passed by the General Assembly because the thought of how many hospitals will have to close their doors between now and next session if this doesn’t go through is [inconceivable].”

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HB 194: Overcrowding in schools

What: Requires counties and municipalities to work with local school boards to alleviate potential overcrowding of schools.

Who: Written by District 25 state Rep. Todd Jones, co-sponsored by District 22 state Rep. Wes Cantrell and District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan.

Status: Did not crossover.

Comments: “Forsyth County sits in a very unique position,” Jones said. “Out of 159 [counties], Forsyth and maybe 12-15 other counties are experiencing the growth that we’re experiencing, so I have to be able to get the support of those vast majority of counties who, frankly, are saying that issue doesn’t rise to the [level of importance] for [the bill] to pass. Odds are not high, but I’ll continue to fight for the next 10 days.”

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HBs 316 and 317: Tax cuts to alternatively-fueled vehicle oweners

What: Reduces taxes on electric vehicles and exempts low-speed vehicles – mainly golf carts.

Who: Written by Jones, co-sponsored by Cantrell.

Status: Did not crossover.

Comments: “It looks like the transportation [committee] is going to be doing a hearing on them next week; I’m highly encouraged by that,” Jones said. “In my opinion, it’s autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles that are the future of transportation.”

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Senate Bill 254: Law enforcement compensation

What: Ensures all law enforcement officers are properly compensated throughout the state.

Who: Written by District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams.

Status: Did not crossover.

Comments: “In Georgia, many officers are struggling to put food on their table and make ends meet,” Williams said. “A shocking number depend on food stamps ... It’s time we step up and give our officers a working wage. Our heroes deserve our support and appreciation.”

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SB 122: Hunting season

What: Creates a statewide season for deer hunting and extends the length of time firearms may be used for the sport.

Who: Written by Williams.

Status: Did not crossover.

Comments: “I will continue to work to get [the bill] out next session,” Williams said.

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HB 338: “Plan B” for failed Opportunity School District

What: Creates an Education Turnaround Advisory Council to help failing schools.

Who: Written by District 9 state Rep. Kevin Tanner.

Status: Crossed over.

Comments: “This is something that, let’s face it, the Forsyth County school board does not govern any underachieving schools,” District 25’s Jones said. “But there are well over 150 schools that meet the criteria for not being able to achieve the standards the state expects, so, effectively, the [council] comes in after three years of [schools] consistently underachieving and they assist – they don’t take over. But after five [years], if for some reason there hasn’t been a transformation, then [they] start to become more of a step-in [authority].”
Campus carry bill takes step forward

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HB 280: Allows guns on campuses

What: Authorizes the carrying and possession of handguns in certain manners by weapons carry license holders in certain buildings or on real property owned by or leased to public institutions of postsecondary education.

Who: Written by District 23 state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, who represents much of Cherokee County.

Status: Crossed over.